Raleigh’s new outdoor dining policy is cutting short some nights for patrons on the patios in downtown Raleigh. If its 1 a.m., by law you’ll need to head inside.
But what if you don’t want to? Tough. Go inside or go home. At least for now. In mid-August downtown bars and restaurants began complying with a three-month trial of reduced hours required by the new Private Use of Public Space policy. Don’t complain, at least you don’t have to enforce the law. Raleigh police are supposed to make sure there’s only one person per 15 square foot of outdoor space. The new rules apply to public sidewalks, not private outdoor dining areas. For decades, Raleigh didn’t have any major problems with outdoor dining. Then came the 2006 revitalization of downtown’s Fayetteville Street that brought throngs of visitors to the restaurants and bars.
What started with a few complaints from nearby residents has led to a full-on discussion of how we want our city’s main street to be. On one side, restaurants and bars are seen as the pioneers in our downtown’s revitalization. On the other, the residential aspect is seen as the future, with late-night activity holding back the potential to create a livable, peaceful environment.
Businesses that rely on sidewalk space are seeing revenues drop as Raleigh rolls up the welcome mat earlier than usual. A good idea or not?
— with Leo Suarez